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Refreshing Reality Check - Stevens Pass Avalanche - The New York Times Video

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=cjzT15-oQq0#!

 

 

Every time I look back at this story, I can feel my heart beating a little faster as I imagine myself being in place of those skiers who died doing what the love the most  - skiing fresh and steep. 

 

Here is pretty good video with that illustrates how things unfolded on that day. A fresh reminder and a reality check for us. 

post #2 of 24

I killed an hour at work reading the NY Times story today.  It gave me the chills.  That whole event was an epic mother nature bitch slap reminder that you can never be too careful. 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2012/snow-fall/

post #3 of 24

The graphics are fantastic. That first graphic of Stevens Pass where we're flying over it--I ski Stevens, and I feel like I saw it in a new light. And the use of audio and video to help tell the story--this article is really something. The audio of the 911 calls is hard to listen to, and the last one--the one where King County dispatch calls ski patrol--is heartbreaking.

 

It says at the end it took 6 months to compose this article. I believe it.

post #4 of 24
post #5 of 24

An absolutely spectacular combination of technology and reportage.

I don't BC ski, but this thing made my heart race and I was literally at the edge of my chair

reading it.

 

Terrifying and profoundly sad.

post #6 of 24

The article is certainly put together in an impressive fashion.  That's easily the best use of the web to tell a story that I've seen.

 

What a tragic day though.  You can't help but feel for everyone involved.


Edited by sinbad7 - 12/23/12 at 4:22am
post #7 of 24

I agree, you definitely have to feel for people that were so passionate about the sport. 

post #8 of 24
Wow! Great article! Truly sickening how the event transpired....it left a lump in my throat and much sorrow for those involved. I read the book "Into Thin Air" which is about an event on Everest back in 96....eerily similar, although the skiers didn't have "altitude" sickness.
post #9 of 24

Finally got this over the Holidays and it was as good as everyone described.  I was terrified from the first word to the last.  The visual aids were incredible to understand the topography and the nature of the trap they were in and the proximal relationships of all the skiers.  It certainly drove home some key reminders to me about when to venture into the BC and with whom.  I kept coming back to the woman who had the sense to bail out and ski down a much milder slope around the side b/c the whole situation didn't feel right to her.  They even talk about how she was ridiculed for being a "rookie"..yet her instincts and her willingness to maker her own decisions, regardless of peer pressure, may have saved her life.  I'm sorry for all the victims and their families..my thoughts and prayers still go out to them. 

post #10 of 24

NY Times "The Avalance at Tunnel Creek"

Great article in the NY Times about the Tunnel Creek avalanche.  May have been posted before. They put a link to the article on yesterday's website.  A made for the web synopsis of the documentary with great graphics, especially on the science of avalanches.  Really well done.

 

http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2012/snow-fall/#/?part=tunnel-creek

post #11 of 24

Yes, not only is the writing excellent, the graphics are fantastic. It originally came out in Dec or Jan. It unfolds well on an iPad, too.
 

post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by cosmoliu View Post

Yes, not only is the writing excellent, the graphics are fantastic. It originally came out in Dec or Jan. It unfolds well on an iPad, too.
 


Glad they "reran"  the link to it. I had never seen it before.

 

Really liked the depth of the article/documentary on going back and "where are they now" on the survivors.

 

The comment of one,  "I'm so done with skiing",  struck me.

 

That it was a crew of experts was central to it.

post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagles Pdx View Post

That it was a crew of experts was central to it.

It has always bothered me how much people count length of time/ experience doing something. There is certainly much merit to it that's not what I mean. I have just always believed that you should trust your gut. If your feeling a no go don't just ignore because the other person is an "expert." People start to ignore basic signs and precautions because "they" know better.

post #14 of 24

Moved the posts of the new thread to the original thread. 

post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagles Pdx View Post


Glad they "reran"  the link to it. I had never seen it before.

 

Really liked the depth of the article/documentary on going back and "where are they now" on the survivors.

 

The comment of one,  "I'm so done with skiing",  struck me.

 

That it was a crew of experts was central to it.

 



Experts? Expert at what.

 

Jack and Brenan we former ski patrollers and from the sound of it, really good people.

 

That doesn't qualify as "expert" any more than the 5 folks killed at Loveland or the guy at Vail Pass.

 

And stories about both of those incidents call those folks "Experts".

 

I have been at this for 30 years straight, does that make me an expert?

 

In your very humble opinion, what makes someone an expert?


Edited by bunion - 4/30/13 at 1:52pm
post #16 of 24

Oh boy... poo, meet fan on this one, bunion. Look out! smile.gif

post #17 of 24
If you consider that BC skiing is more a form of mountaineering than skiing in most regards....

Google 'mountaineering expert' followed by 'skiing expert'. See if you can discern a cultural difference between the hits you get.
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by NayBreak View Post

If you consider that BC skiing is more a form of mountaineering than skiing in most regards....

Google 'mountaineering expert' followed by 'skiing expert'. See if you can discern a cultural difference between the hits you get.

I have more rock climbing experience then straight mountaineering but I can tell you the two major difference I see. First I encounter a lot less pressure to continue on when your out there. Some one says  they aren't comfortable and there is zero judgement.I have gotten up to a pitch that is much easier then my top end but something abut it sketched me out, so I tell my partner and they are more then happy to take the lead. I have also been in reverse position. Idk maybe hanging a 100 in the air the danger is more apparent.

 

Another thing I perceive is the way the two cultures accept new comers. It seems there is very much you don't know what your doing gtfo with back country skiing. You need to either know someone or establish your self through knowledge or some other way. Climbing on the other hand is extremely welcoming. First time I went trad climbing, we were trying to sport climb but it turned out there wasn't a lot of sport climbing in the area. We ran into some guys there and they offered to show us and set some ropes for us.    

post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by NayBreak View Post

If you consider that BC skiing is more a form of mountaineering than skiing in most regards....

Google 'mountaineering expert' followed by 'skiing expert'. See if you can discern a cultural difference between the hits you get.

I consider ski mountaineering to be a small subset/combination of mountaineering and BC skiing. To me, more than 90% of BC skiing is not a form of mountaineering, but more than 90% of mountaineering isn't a form of BC skiing either. wink.gif
post #20 of 24

I'd say that as far as avalanches go an expert would be a forecaster or a patroller with years of setting off controlled avalanches. I can't see anyone else having seen enough avalanches to be an expert, and if there is such a person I wouldn't want to ski with them. The problem with avalanches is that generally we learn from our mistakes, and that doesn't work out so well with avalanches. 

post #21 of 24

If I recall correctly, most of the people involved in the Steven's Creek incident were expert skiers. That's not the same as avalanche experts.

post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post

If I recall correctly, most of the people involved in the Steven's Creek incident were expert skiers. That's not the same as avalanche experts.

exactly. the problem is that people who are the former are often perceived to be the latter, when they're not. The media perceives them that way, which doesn't matter.  Other skiers perceive them that way and follow them, which does matter.

post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by oldgoat View Post

exactly. the problem is that people who are the former are often perceived to be the latter, when they're not. The media perceives them that way, which doesn't matter.  Other skiers perceive them that way and follow them, which does matter.

 

For people who doesn't ski, it wouldn't surprise me they can't tell the difference. (I once had my mother ask me, as she watched a BMX'er flew over a big pile of obstacle with grace and ease, if I could do that just as handy! She fully expect me to say "of course" and was surprised when I said I don't even attempt it! She couldn't tell the difference...)

 

I wonder though, for skiers who rarely go outside the resort boundry, can they tell whether a "local" is indeed avalanche expert? The thinking goes, expert skier + local + had gone out the gate before = BC expert!?   

post #24 of 24

Experts make poor choices in all fields of human endeavor every day. In most cases, it isn't literally life and death. Have many of us 'gotten away' with a potentially poor choice? Yes. Absolutely. Freaked me out so much that the following day I had a hard time dropping into the first run when there was very very very little chance of any snow going anywhere. Stevens Pass... just too big a group to make good choices. A hive mind filled with stoke is difficult to resist. The only way to do so is to never get there to begin with. Make yourself a rule, and make it hard and fast. Keep it without compromise. Biggest one for myself is group size.  I'll happily tour with a larger group in the spring when snowpack is isothermic and (relatively) stable, but not in the winter. 3 is perfect. 4 can work so long as someone or two  have a 'tie breaker' say in travel matters. 5 is max. 

 

Please don't take any of the above as a 'told you so' or 'should'a' argument. The people involved had a lot of experience, were/are good folks, have made many good choices in the past, and given a couple of different variables in the equation of the day (heuristics at play here), everyone might still be alive today. I skied with one survivor in bounds for a day at Stevens this past winter. I'd happily tour with him. The whole thing rightfully shook him to the core. I don't know him well enough to have asked anything specific about the day as I'm sure he's re-lived his choices and second guessed himself enough without comment or inquiry from me.  

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